AUBURN — The School Committee unanimously approved a $59.1 million budget for the upcoming year and agreed to allocate up to $200,000 more from the undesignated fund to reduce this year’s tax impact.

The final number is dependent on the City Council. The School Committee will use $200,000 from the undesignated fund only if the City Council agrees to use an additional $800,000 from its own undesignated fund. If the City Council appropriates less than $800,000, the School Committee’s undesignated fund will pitch in 25% of that value.

For example, if the City Council ultimately agrees to use an additional $600,000 from its undesignated fund, the school will use $150,000. If the City Council declines to use any more fund balance, the School Committee will not appropriate extra funds.

Auburn Mayor Jason Levesque proposed using an additional $200,000 from the undesignated fund to reduce the tax rate increase. This would help mitigate tax increases for residential property owners who could see an average property tax increase of 10% following a reevaluation last year, he said, adding that it would also encourage more development.

Ward 4 representative Brian Belknap II introduced the amendment to allocate 25% of whatever the City Council adds from their undesignated fund, up to $200,000.

Superintendent Cornelia Brown expressed concerns about using more money from the undesignated fund.


“I feel like the school department has done its part,” she said, noting that school administrators cut $1.5 million in positions from the budget and used $700,000 in additional state funding to reduce the tax tax impact.

The district already plans to use $2 million to supplement the budget. The undesignated fund currently totals $5 million.

Next year will be a difficult budget year, she told the School Committee. Pandemic-era federal relief funding is set to end next year, and the committee will need to decide whether to to keep or cut 25 positions, which Brown said included teachers, educational technicians, social workers and nurses.

Ultimately, Levesque’s proposal with Belknap’s amendment was unanimously approved by the committee.

The approved $59.1 million spending plan represents a 6% increase from the current budget. It includes 16.5 position reductions, 15.5 which are teachers and one which is the director of the Regional Educational Treatment Center. Three sports programs will also be cut: fall cheer, Nordic ski and first team football.

The approved budget without the additional $200,000 from the undesignated fund would raise the tax rate by $0.29, or an estimated $58 on a property valued at $200,000. Including the increase, Auburn residents would pay roughly $1,822 in school tax this upcoming year for a similarly valued property.


If $200,000 from the fund is used, the tax rate increase would fall to $0.20, an estimated $39 increase on a property valued at $200,000, or a total school tax of about $1,804.

The City Council gave initial approval to the School Committee’s budget Monday, and will next meet at City Hall on May 15 at 7 p.m. The budget validation referendum is scheduled for June 13.

In other news, Auburn has hired Dave Fontain as its new transportation director. Fontain has a commercial driver’s license and was the transportation director for the Oxford Hills school district for 13 years, Brown said.

The school’s transportation department will return to the administration of the school district, while maintenance workers have elected to remain under the direction of the city.

Additionally, Brown said that Sherwood Heights Principal Cheryl Cline will retire at the end of the year. Walton Elementary School Principal Mike Davis will move to Sherwood Heights to take her position.

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